Reference in 1 Cor 7:8, 10, 12

Steven R. Lo Vullo doulos at appleisp.net
Thu Sep 6 18:59:52 EDT 2001


on 9/6/01 9:32 AM, Kimmo Huovila at kimmo.huovila at helsinki.fi wrote:

> Assuming this to be the correct interpretation, there is something
> interesting going on. What linguistic signals are there to help the
> reader understand that GEGAMHKOTES are not all married people, but only those
> who are Christians married to a Christian? A straightforward reading
> would suggest that all married people are in view, but then the reader
> will have to stop and look back at verse 12, when he realizes that
> AGAMOI, CHRAI, and GEGAMHKOTES are quite all-inclusive - and then he
> looks for a more limited interpretation, presumably. Without linguistic
> signals to limit GEGAMHKOTES (or something else in the text) the texts
> reads somewhat awkwardly. A punster would probably ask Paul if these
> Christians married to non-Christians are married (GEGAMHKOTES) ;-).

Hi Kimmo:

Yes, it think you are right when you say the text reads somewhat awkwardly.
And I think the interpretation I offered is less than obvious. The key, I
think, may be in the word "reader" in your question, "What linguistic
signals are there to help the reader understand that GEGAMHKOTES are not all
married people, but only those who are Christians married to a Christian?"
If by "reader" we mean those to whom the letter was not originally targeted
(like us), then there are probably few linguistic features that would tip us
off. On the other hand, if by "reader" we mean someone to whom the letter
was originally addressed, that may be a different matter. I think we have to
remember that Paul is responding to questions raised by the Corinthian
congregation (PERI DE hWN EGRAYATE, v. 1). So the original readers would
have the advantage over us in that they were privy to the exact nature of
the issues in view, since they are the ones who raised them. So Paul could
count on the fact that they, unlike us, could understand by a terse
referense to the issue, along with the contours of the answer, exactly what
he is talking about. Not so with us. So we end up having to engage in the
kind of backtracking you describe above.

Also, I think that in light of the fact that Paul surely has *believing*
AGAMOI and CHRAI in mind in vv. 7-8, it is only natural that he turn to
believing married people in vv. 8-9, and then to mixed couples in vv. 12-16.
There is a natural progression: unmarried believers-married believing
couples-married believers with unbelieving spouses.
-- 

Steve Lo Vullo
Madison, WI




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